New data from Verizon Connect reveals the extent to which commercial drivers in the UK are breaking road traffic safety regulations by failing to take appropriate rest breaks. The survey of fleet managers across the UK found more than one in five commercial drivers (22%) spends more than 4.5 hours at the wheel without taking a mandated rest break of 45 minutes.[1] Fleet managers also identified fatigue as the cause of almost one fifth (18%) of vehicle accidents, second only to speeding with 19%.

Verizon Connect’s research also highlights the challenges fleet managers face to ensure drivers remain safe and compliant. Driver fatigue is cited as their top safety concern (45%), followed by speeding and harsh braking (44%), and mobile phone use in vehicle (39%). The failure of individual drivers to observe these safety regulations not only increases the likelihood of road traffic accidents but can also result in punitive penalties being handed to their employers. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) can issue drivers with an on-the-spot fine of up to £1,500 if they’re caught breaking these rules on the road.

These results reflect the increase in penalties awarded to commercial vehicle operators, with the total value of fixed penalties issued by the DVSA rising 75% from £4 million in 2017-18 to £7 million in 2018-19.[2]

In addition to ensuring driver compliance, the study also revealed fleet managers’ struggles to ensure their own regulatory compliance. Finding the time to ensure records are up to date was the most pressing concern, with almost a third (32%) spending four hours or more per week correcting and following up on mistakes in drivers’ tachograph data, the equivalent of 18.5 working days per year.

Fleet managers and operators are also required to download their drivers’ tachograph data regularly. However, the survey found that while 7 in 10 (72%) of fleet managers download their driver tacho data regularly, it happens on average 10 times per year – which does not comply with the legal requirement to download the data every 28 days.

Derek Bryan, Vice President, EMEA, Verizon Connect comments: “This is one of the busiest periods of the year for many commercial vehicle operators and they have an incredibly difficult job. There is a lot of pressure to meet strict service level agreements and cope with increased demand in the leadup to Christmas. But safety must always come first. 

“Simple systems can cut down time spent on admin while ensuring compliance and driver safety. Fleet management systems can integrate tachographs so that managers can get near-real-time alerts when drivers are approaching their legal limits and ensure they take appropriate rest. Managers can also schedule to download driver tacho data remotely to automatically ensure compliance. The benefit is improved driver safety, compliance, and productivity, which lets managers reclaim time to focus on growing and improving the business.”